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Red flags to keep in mind when buying an all-in-one marketing platform

May 09, 2024

Choosing the right customer engagement platform to meet your data requirements can feel overwhelming. In our recent webinar, Chris Marriott, founder of Email Connect, and Luke Ambrosetti, Senior Partner Solutions Engineer at Snowflake, shared their valuable insights on navigating the vendor selection process with ease. 

Let’s explore the key takeaways from their engaging discussion, including expert tips, common red flags, and the right questions to ask during your next RFP process.

Evaluating customer engagement platforms and CDPs

Choosing the right martech is far from straightforward. Chris Marriott noted that “there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.” It involves deep dives into how various platforms can meet your specific business needs, particularly in terms of data management and integration.

Solutions often appear similar on the surface, yet they differ greatly in their underlying technology and capabilities. A recurring theme throughout the webinar was the need to dig deeper when evaluating vendors. “You have to ask the right questions to understand what you’re really getting,” Chris advised.

Here are some of those key questions to ask to ensure you are selecting the best solution for your organization:

Key questions to ask during vendor evaluations

What do you mean by “real-time”?

 

A term often thrown around in the martech world is “real-time”. However, as Chris Marriott mentioned, “Real-time can mean different things depending on the context.” Ask vendors to define what they mean by real-time, as it could significantly impact your campaigns and data processing.

Luke Ambrosetti added that “real-time” expectations can vary by use case. For example, website personalization might require response times of “sub-100 or 200 milliseconds”, while transactional emails could tolerate a few seconds’ delay. Understanding these nuances is essential when comparing vendors’ claims.

What database structure does your platform use?

 

Different martech platforms rely on different database structures, which can affect how they handle data. Chris Marriott pointed out that “there are two basic types of database structures in the ESP world: relational databases and NoSQL databases.” Knowing which type a vendor uses and the implications for your business is key to making an informed decision.

Can you explain that in more detail?

 

Another common red flag is when vendors don’t provide clear explanations of their integration processes, or they gloss over critical technical details. If you’re not getting clear answers, it’s a sign to dig deeper and ask for clarification.

Luke Ambrosetti noted that “it’s not enough to rely on a simple ‘yes’ answer in an RFP.” Be sure to ask follow-up questions and seek specific examples to understand how their technology integrates with your data systems.

The importance of cross-functional collaboration

The question of who should lead and own the RFP process when purchasing a martech platform was another hot topic on our webinar. Should it be marketing, IT, or another department? Chris Marriott suggested that marketing should take the lead but emphasized the importance of involving IT. “Marketing should probably take the lead, but IT should have a major voice in the process,” he said.

Luke Ambrosetti agreed, stressing that a collaborative approach is ideal, though it can be challenging to achieve in practice. Marketing and IT teams often approach vendor evaluation from different angles, with the marketing team focusing on ease of use and campaign efficiency, while IT is concerned with data security and integration.

The campaign production team, often overlooked, should also have a seat at the table, as they are the ones who will use the technology daily. A collaborative approach ensures all stakeholders have a say in the decision-making process and have the opportunity to ask about specific capabilities.

Ensure your voice is heard

If you’re not the decision maker but will be either using the technology or directly affected by its implementation, how can you ensure your views and concerns are considered? Chris Marriott’s advice is to make your concerns known through scorecards and documentation so the team leading the RFP process has a comprehensive view of the evaluation process from all relevant stakeholders.

“Nothing beats paperwork and scorecards to say, ‘Hey, look at all the people who contributed to this decision,'” he said. Luke Ambrosetti added that if you have specific concerns, write them down and share them with the RFP owner, providing reasoning and suggestions for how they could be addressed. Providing detailed feedback on why you prefer or dislike certain platforms can be instrumental in shaping the final decision. This approach ensures that your voice is heard, your insights are taken into account, and the technology chosen aligns with your team’s needs.

Solving your data problems

Choosing the right martech can be a complex journey, but with the right approach, you can find a platform that meets the needs of your entire organization.

By asking the right questions, collaborating across teams, and seeking clarification on vendor claims, you’ll be better positioned to choose the right solution for your unique marketing, data, and IT needs.

If you’re looking for a customer engagement solution to solve your data problems, MessageGears has you covered. Our unique approach lets you work with your data where it lives, providing unparalleled flexibility and security.

Learn more about how MessageGears can seamlessly integrate with your existing systems and tackle your data challenges with ease.

About the Author
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Sarah Kelly

Sarah is a passionate marketing professional devoted to crafting thought-provoking content that fuels business growth and success. With over a decade of experience in the ever-evolving marketing world, she brings a strategic and data-driven mindset to her role as SEO.